The result was looking splendid, far more than what Georgetown Day Coach Anthony Belber thought was achievable, when he awaited the announcement that his team had claimed third-place at Saturday’s D.C.-Maryland Private Schools championships. When they heard the trophy presenter say the word “Georgetown,” Belber and his girls happily started to stand up.
But it wasn’t Georgetown Day that was being called for third place. The Northwest school wasn’t second either. On a warm day at Agricultural History Farm Park in Derwood, the Hoppers suddenly realized they had won their first championship in school history. The result was so surprising, they almost didn’t know how to celebrate.
“They were reluctant to take the trophy,” said Belber, whose girls overcame a late deficit to defeat National Cathedral and Georgetown Visitation. “They thought there must’ve been some mix-up.”
Things quickly turned from splendid to surreal. It was as if the Hoppers were on the set of a movie and then were suddenly and unwittingly thrust into starring roles.
Still, almost every girl played her part by giving the performance of a lifetime. Promising freshman Katherine Treanor set the tone, placing fifth overall on the 5K course in 19 minutes 59 seconds, a school record. Gillian Page ran a personal-best time (21:06) by almost 20 seconds.
Julia Ernst, who wrestles for the Hoppers, had already started transitioning to that winter sport. Still sore from push-ups and the mat from earlier in the week, she helped spark a Georgetown Day program that had never won an Independent School League championship and whose best showing at this meet came last year when it finished sixth.
Georgetown Day also captured the boys’ team title, a result that, unlike the girls’, hardly came as a surprise. Behind leader Griffin Colaizzi, who placed fifth in 16:24, the Hoppers rode the momentum it gained from winning its third straight Mid-Atlantic Athletic Conference championship two weeks ago all the way to a convincing victory over defending champion Good Counsel and Calvert Hall on Saturday.
“I grew up in this area,” said Belber, a St. Albans grad. “Any time you can beat the Gonzagas and Gilmans and Good Counsels, these are schools that in my mind are athletic powerhouses. For a tiny school without its own track [to do it], that’s pretty special.”
O’Connell won the Virginia Independent Schools state championships Friday at Woodberry Forest, breezing past Saint Catherine’s, Trinity and Paul VI. It was the sixth championship in a row for the Knights.
Trinity won the boys’ title over Woodberry Forest, Paul VI and Potomac School.
O’Connell’s Devin Nihill was unable to defend her individual title — shin pain has held her back for most of the season and made things difficult for her on Friday — but still ran No. 1 for the Arlington school, which nearly put all five scorers in the top 20.
Trinity’s Molly Breidenbaugh was the individual champion on the challenging 5K course, finishing first in 19:16.55. Potomac School’s Rachel Greaney was fifth (20:04.45), the top area performance.
O’Connell’s J.J. Lapointe was the top area boy, finishing second in 16:52.08. Reider Strehler of Trinity was the winner in 16:34.81.
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